Building a new home is a long and arduous process. Because of this, it’s tempting to just dump all responsibility on professional building designers. However, if you want to avoid design, scheduling and financing issues, it helps to be involved in the development process as much as possible.
To do this, you need to be aware of the major stages that building designers go through during the residential development process. Each stage will ensure that your home is constructed legally, safely and efficiently.
So, here is a short guide on how residential developments are planned and prepared.
- Choose a building designer
First and foremost, you need to ensure that you choose the right building designer for your particular project.
An obvious criterion for choosing a builder is their reputation. Ideally, you want a building group that has previously worked with someone that you know. This way, you can get an idea of the quality of their craftsmanship and their customer service. If you can’t get a reference, it’s a good idea to interview multiple builders and choose the most suitable one. Since communication is a crucial factor to the success of the project, it’s best to meet the builders in-person before you make a decision. We also recommend that you look at their most recent reviews and testimonials.
Another criterion to consider is the type of services that the designers provide. Some builders do custom home designs and others don’t. Some builders specialise in multi-residential buildings and others focus on single dwellings. Because of this, it’s essential that you double-check the services that your chosen designer provides. You don’t want to get to the middle of the development process only to find out that your builder can’t help you with the electrical plans and permits.
- Selecting a site
In this stage, you and the builder will start looking for the most suitable site for your project. When it comes to pre-purchase evaluations, it’s not enough to just look at the dimensions of land. You also need to consider zoning regulations, possible heritage overlays, gradients (slopes) and access to utilities like electricity and water. All of these are essential in ensuring the feasibility and viability of your property.
In this stage, most builders and property owners will likely evaluate a good number of sites before settling on the right one. Indeed, it’s essential that you get this stage right as it’s literally the foundation of your new residential property.
If you cut corners during this phase and ignore the site’s legal and practical implications, it may come to haunt you later on in the process. You might find that you can’t demolish certain structures, remove certain trees or construct your home in your preferred orientation.
Once you have the appropriate site, it’s time to get the planning started. One of the first things to do in this stage is to recruit a registered land surveyor to methodically assess the features of your site. Surveyors will also set up the boundaries within which your builders can work.
When that’s finished, your architect (along with draughts-people) will start preparing the plans and documents necessary for your town planning permit application. The town planning application is a long and often frustrating process that involves lodging and re-lodging documents, making amendments and liaising with your neighbours about any objections that they may have. Since it’s such a complicated procedure, you need to make sure that your chosen building designer can help you with this stage of the process.
Next, you will need the help of the broker to sort out the financing. In addition to being a financial adviser, a broker also acts as the intermediary between you and the bank. Brokers will provide you with all the necessary information and documents that you need for settlement. Sometimes, they even go as far as helping you fill out forms and documentation. Just like with builders, it’s important that you choose a reputable and reliable broker.
- Demolition and tree removals
Unfortunately, the town planning permit isn’t the only permit that you need to worry about. If there’s an existing structure on your chosen site, you may also need to apply for a demolition permit. For example, in the City of Melbourne, you will need a demolition permit if the demolition involves more than half of the building’s volume or if it involves the facade.
Another thing to consider are overlays. If your site is affected by a heritage overlay, you may not even be able to demolish the structures on the land. This is why it’s extremely important that you assess and survey the site at the beginning of the residential development process.
Tree removals are another issue entirely. In the state of Victoria, you will need a tree removal permit if you’re looking to remove a significant tree. What is considered a ‘significant’ tree will differ depending on your municipality. For example, in the City of Bayside, a tree with a trunk circumference greater than 155 cm and a height greater than one meter above ground level is considered a significant tree. Additionally, any tree listed on the municipality’s significant tree register is also considered a significant tree regardless of size.
After the permits have been acquired, it’s time to get the construction underway. This is when the necessary materials and products are ordered. Sometimes, the builders might even order the items in advance so that they can get into the full swing of things as soon as possible.
During this stage, you will get a better sense of cost. If you’re working with a good designer, the builders should be able to help you reduce cost wherever possible.
There you have it, the five major steps in residential development. Keep in mind that there are countless other steps in between the ones that we discussed above. Indeed, home construction is an extremely complicated process. As a property owner, however, you don’t need to go into too much detail. In most cases, it’s enough to understand the major phases of the project. Understanding the five steps above will help you stay on top of things and potentially avoid miscommunication or misunderstandings.